Fun Activities to Do With Your Loved Ones in a Skilled Nursing Facility

skilled nursing facility activities 

If you have a loved one staying in a skilled nursing facility, especially a senior citizen receiving long-term care, then you probably know their wellbeing depends on family involvement. Family visits provide a variety of psychological benefits like positivity, encouragement, and hope, all of which have been proven to enhance overall health. But aside from joining a game of group bingo or catching up with the latest family news, you might not know how to spend your time during a visit. The best way to avoid boredom or awkwardness is to arrive with a plan (and supplies, if needed) for fun activities that will ensure visits are meaningful for your loved one—and you. Here are some suggestions:


Making crafts and items by hand is a productive and creative way to spend time while socializing with your loved one. Try painting, knitting, leatherwork, stringing beaded necklaces, or making greeting cards. Working with various colors and textures is a great brain exercise, and the end products of your crafting sessions can be given away as gifts to other family members or nursing home residents. Another idea is to make seasonal or holiday-oriented decorations to brighten up your loved one’s room or common areas if the nursing facility allows it.


Maintaining cognitive agility is important for aging loved ones, and board games and card games are a pleasurable way for seniors to socialize while keeping their minds sharp. Popular choices include Scrabble, Boggle, Monopoly, Sorry, Uno, and Gin or Gin Rummy. And if you want to add a physical element to your game time, consider investing in a Nintendo Wii, which is an easy, interactive gaming system that has become quite popular at nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities.

Mini Spa

Just because someone is retired doesn’t mean there’s no need to relax. Everyone can benefit from a rejuvenating trip to the spa, so why not bring a mini spa to your loved one? Try hand massages with scented lotions and manicures with fun nail polish colors or designs.  Aromatherapy candles or oil diffusers with calming scents such as lavender, chamomile, or vanilla will help create a relaxing atmosphere. 


Even if you’re already close to your loved one, they probably have plenty of stories from their long life that you’ve never heard. Now is a great time to not only listen, but also to record their stories for other family members and future generations to cherish. Bring a simple digital recorder or use an app on your phone to collect precious memories and hilarious stories. Later, you might consider transcribing the recordings and printing them in a book through one of the several publishing-on-demand services available online.


Different nursing facilities have different policies regarding outings, but if your loved one is allowed and physically able to venture out, fresh air and new scenery can do wonders for their wellbeing. Suggestions include a walk in the park, lunch at a café, a visit to a museum, a drive through the countryside, or even a trip to the mall for some new clothes or accessories. Music concerts, plays, and movies are also great ideas, but regardless of where you go, the most important thing is the time you spend together and the new memories you create.

Fun activities every day of the week

At Bella Vista Health Center, we understand the importance of providing our long-term residents with a variety of stimulating and fun activities to keep their minds sharp and spirits up. At our skilled nursing facility in San Diego, we offer live music, group outings, birthday celebrations, yoga and meditation, and a variety of daily activities for the most comprehensive care possible. If you or a loved one is looking for the best skilled nursing facility in the area, give us a call (619) 644-1000 for a tour of our 5-Star rated facility.